Animation quality, then and now

November 21st, 2008 by Author

The Omisyth’s post on the topic reminded me how I went through the line-counting phase myself. It started about when I saw the awful quality of Mai-HiME, and it took about a year to pass. What weaned me off this particular obsession was a review of Azumanga. That show represents one of the pinnacles of economic and expressive style that retains anime traits, aided by a flawless execution. So, it’s perfect example that demonstrates the silliness of the assumptions going into the dichotomy.

The notion of the ancient anime’s superiority mostly arises when people look at hair in close-ups. To Heart is actually a middle-of-the-road example (illustrations aren’t going to be blogsized least they cease to illustrate):

Akari has about a dozen of strands on each side. True, nobody does it anymore. But even leaving aside the question if such detail adds quality, in the old shows the detail level was always downgraded quickly with a zoom-out. So we have a lot targeted selection whenever examples are brought up. In the Otaking’s chart that Omisyth referred, all heads on the left are full-frames. But normally, it wasn’t anything like in old beloved classics. Check out this Kasumi, for instance:

Aside from being tiring and having a uniform level of detail per square centimeter instead of per object, the hand-painting often produced an interrupted and uneven line on the cell. It’s a good thing they don’t do it anymore. Look at the confining lines around Ayeka’s forearms:

This is something that Otaking’s chart coyly omits. BTW, the chart also puts Naruto into the right column, while the early Naruto was in fact a classic hand-painted show. Check out this Lee:

Too funny really.

In the end, it’s a pointless discussion. The revolution has happened, we have the results now. Some like it old, some like it new. Both before and after we have pretty shows and ugly shows. I think it’s way more important and topical to rail against the invasion of the ugly 3D, such as seen in Nodame (with Paris-hen having more and worse scenes with 3D figures of performers).